ILLUSTRATOR, MOTION DESIGNER
Monica Ahanonu is living her life in color. Literally. As an illustrator and motion designer, this Dreamworks Animation alum is making a name for herself outside of the big studios where she’s worked on popular projects like Captain Underpants and Boss Baby. Last summer, she was tapped by Disney to reimagine four princesses (Jasmine, Merida, Mulan and Tiana), and her vibrant pop art of celebrities can be seen making rounds on social media on any given day.
“I love playing with color in every way possible. Whether that's with my illustrations or with what I decide to wear for the day,” she tells OkayAfrica. “I gain a lot of my inspiration from fashion looks that I see. In addition to fashion, I am inspired by nature. Objects in nature are so imperfectly perfect.”
The importance of being a visible Black illustrator is not lost on her. “The biggest challenge I had with my work was figuring out where it fit in the world and what industry it was meant for,” she says. “I had the animation background and training, but my work was very different than what you typically see. It took me a while to figure out where it fit and could be best utilized.” As a freelance artist with clients like Disney, The New York Times, InStyle and more, it seems this Nigerian-American illustrator has found her niche, and an inspiring one at that.